August 21st, 2012

After “legitimate” rape comes “a little good” & necessary abuse at work

We always try to be polite so as to not offend. That’s what we were taught, right? But that rulebook is for suckers and victims. There is a group of mean-spirited S.O.B.s who care not one whit what they say. They speak, revealing their ignorant, science-loathing, compassionless minds, and they are never forced to give up their jobs. Lately, many are elected representatives of the People. Example — U.S. Congressman Todd Akin.

The American media gave saturated coverage (all networks, all day long on Aug 20) to the ridiculous statements by Akin, an old white guy who is proud of his legislative work — to prohibit all abortions, even in cases of rape. [Note: Co-sponsor of multiple Akin-like bills (e.g., HR 3) — V.P. candidate Paul Ryan.]

The headline-grabbing line from an Akin TV appearance was his use of the adjective “legitimate” in front of rape. That implies that there is good rape and bad rape. Ask any woman about that.

Only geezers and mean-spirited young men in denial about their misogyny seem to believe some junk theory that the rape victim’s body rejects sperm from an assailant (knowing that it wasn’t her pappy’s?). Over 32,000 women get pregnant from rape each year in our rape-prone culture. [Did you know that anthropologist P. Sanday concludes that 47% of cultures in the world are free of rape?] Never mind, facts do not inform Akin and his ilk.

It is a national disgrace that Akin sits on the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology. He is an engineer by training, but his anti-woman ideology trumps a presumed propensity toward clear thinking or an appreciation of science over anecdotal tales only. The source of his “evidence” that pregnancy from rape is nearly impossible came from talking to “a doctor.” Hmm.

Somehow this myth about all-knowing sperm has been circulating for decades among those men wishing to stop medical abortions. The NY Times tracked the history of repeating this malicious lie as did Rachel Maddow. Paradoxically, Akin has 6 children, two of whom are clearly daughters, and 8 grandchildren, most likely one of whom is a girl.

What’s this got to do with bullying? Plenty. The process of devaluing rape victims and refusing to help them in their time of need is analogous to how bullied targets are discounted and disregarded by employers (and most of society).

Targets often describe their experience as traumatizing (30% suffer PTSD according to the latest WBI study). Scientists at the Bergen Bullying Research Group, led by Stale Einarsen, a WBI friend, conducted a study comparing the severity of different traumatizing life events. The group to which bullied targets compared most closely were rape victims.

Jeff Tannebaum, a Littler Mendelson corporate attorney, was quoted in an article about bullying in the San Francisco Business Journal (1998) that every now and then workers “needed a little good bullying” to motivate them. Following this logic, children learn better after a strong whack on their rears; humiliation teaches humility; and show intimidation first is the best way to start relationships with unknown coworkers.

Corporate justification for bullying is the unbridled exercise of managerial control. In the Australian financial press, a corporate attorney wrote that their present and future anti-bullying laws for the workplace are unnecessary. Instead, he proposed, “Let us reset the rules at the workplace so that staff understand that their role is to facilitate the workplace and not to frustrate managerial prerogative.” Stop bullying the managers was the author’s warning. We acknowledge that bullying up the hierarchy does occur, in about 10% of cases according to our earliest national survey.

So, when we stop complaining about abuses of power in our workplaces, abandon the prospect of dignified treatment, make salary concessions until minimum wage is the only wage, and comply with all directives to stay employed (mere survival by any other name), we will be the workforce employers want. Bullying by management will be seen as inevitable and necessary.

Truth is, bullying is now described by employer apologists as inevitable. It’s considered an essential part of human nature that must find expression or kill the person who attempts to contain these natural drives. Yes, aggression is a part of the human condition. But so is advanced cortical development. Our brains can be trained to overcome destructive impulses.

There is clearly a lack of impulse control on display nearly daily in American culture. Through constant exposure we observer-citizens become de-sensititized. We lose the ability to be shocked by outrageousness anymore. Rape isn’t rape to some men; it isn’t all bad (“legitimate” or “forcible”), some version of it must be good. This is craziness!

Similarly, in these tough economic times, voices of adversely affected employees are silenced. “Economic harm” is applied only to employers. They are granted unconditional credibility. CEOs must know what they are doing (because their compensation is so obscenely high?). The fact is that corporations lie. They lie about the safety of their products, the hours their workers work, the hiding of billions of dollars offshore to avoid U.S. taxes, and why they rely on foreign workers to replace Americans.

For 15 years, we have been reporting what happens in the trenches far from the media spotlight. It’s America’s dirty little secret. The media have grown more afraid to expose bullying over the years. They don’t want to explode any myths about corporations being beneficent and good for people.

At WBI, our anti-abuse/anti-bullying campaign must also fight to prevent the hardening of the American heart. We grow coarser when miscreants can attack rape victims publicly and not be held accountable. Watch to see what long-term career consequences, if any, befall Akin.

Our society becomes incredibly less bearable, less tolerant and less civil when bullying can be considered a necessary part of doing business, inevitable and not worth eradicating.

Abuse has no justifiable place in a humane and healthy workplace.

Help us help those who need it and stop rationalizing indefensible bullying.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 1:34 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, The New America. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. kachina2 says:

    Poor Todd. May be still suffering from having had invalidating relationships in childhood and unaware that it has distorted his brain and functioning ever since. I sincerely hope he finds happiness and spreads it as openly and widely as he currently spreads his enduring misery.

  2. Custodian says:

    In recent years, Dominique Straus-Khan and Julian Assange both suffered from high-profile accusations of rape that, on closer inspection, turned out to have been fabricated. Based on these and other examples, we can indeed talk about legitimate rape and false rape. In his apology, mr. Akin claims to have been referring to false allegations. I know nothing about the rest of his political career and cannot say if this is indeed what he meant, but to immediately label it as “woman-hating” is  premature to say the least.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that feminists concealed research on domestic violence and male rape for decades in order to create the illusion that men cannot be victims of these things, and have thus prevented men from receiving aid against abusive spouses. The censorship I mention has included tactics such as bomb threats to researchers, character assassination and false tips to the police; one extreme example of harrassment carried out by feminists is the murder of a dog owned by Erin Pizzey, the founder of the first battered women’s shelter in the UK, after she published Prone to Violence, a book describing how some of the women who came to her refuge after being battered were themselves as violent as their husbands.

    In Sweden, institutionalized feminism has led to a female whistleblower (who exposed serious problems in the Swedish domestic abuse services) being privately threatened by a government official that she would be turned away from all such services if she needed them in the future. This is shown during the documentary “konskriget”, or “gender war”.

    It raises concern to see feminist language being used in an anti-bullying blog, and I sincerely hope you will look into this movement more deeply before employing their rethoric. Male-on-female rape is indeed horrific and must be taken very seriously, but to do so from the standpoint of a movement that seeks to inflict other forms of abuse can serve no good purpose.

    • bullyinginstitute says:

      Akin was never accused of rape. His problem is meddling with women’s health and discounting rape as the serious problem it is.

      I wasn’t speaking as a feminist. What rhetoric of theirs was used? Rape-prone culture is a field of scientific study. So, to me it’s neutral.

      Given the absolute dominance of men in U.S. society, arguing for human rights for women to level the power balance might sound, to you, like a strident call for positive attention to women. Rape is founded upon a hatred of women. So, by logic, those who discount rape (like Akin) most likely harbors hatred that he has never had to confront in public.

       I appreciate the thoughtful comments about some history of domestic violence and the reference to Pizzey. Yes, it is likely true what she said about victims and their own violence tendencies. The same is true for bullied targets. They are not docile princes and princesses.

  3. Jerryhenth says:

    The acceptance of bullying practices has gotten out of line.

    Recently, during a safety committee meeting for my workplace, I was badgered by three supervisors. I had brought to the table, as I had done many times before, the opportunity to correct an ongoing hazard. The hazard, if corrected, it seems, would cut into the facilities productivity. The hazard is not a popular correctable amoung the management staff where I work.

    I reported this incident to the union organization representing the labor force of my workplace. The conclusion of the union investigation was that the supervisors involved were only doing their job.


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